Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Wednesday. 15th. CFA Wednesday. 15th. CFA
Wednesday. 15th.

The day was fine but rather windy. I was exceedingly occupied all my morning in last things to be done, and in packing. The various commissions took me forward and backward between the House and Office several times,1 prior to going up to an early dinner, so that I was tolerably well fatigued before it became time to start. Mr. Brooks2 and several other members of my Wife’s family came to bid her Goodbye. They have none of them been able to summon resolution enough to accompany us, although many of them have desired to do so. We start alone which is not so pleasant as to go with several. But my principle always has been to act with energy and without reference to the action of others. We got to the Depot of the Providence Railway3 in time and at one o’clock took our departure. My Wife who never had been in the Cars before found them so unpleasant that they brought on a headach. This was hastened by an accident which happened almost immediately after we started. The tender which goes directly behind the Engine and carries the supply of wood and water for it, broke down and thus obstructed the course of the Cars. Luckily for us, we were just starting and there was not speed enough to throw us out of the track. But we were detained an hour on a bleak plain just out of the City while the injured article was removing and the locomotive went for a substitute. This gave us a sort of ominous outset which was by no means to be admired. We were not however materially delayed as the train was made to accomplish in two hours the work usually allotted to three 5and thus reached the Steamer Massachusetts which was lying at the Wharf waiting for us at 4 o’clock the regular hour. There is not much to be said of the sail down the bay and through the Sound. The weather was fine and it would have been altogether agreeable, had it not been for the multitude of passengers and for my Wife’s suffering. Many Boston people on board—Mr. Stephen White with two of his daughters, Mrs. Paige, and Miss White, and his sister in law Miss Story; Mr. Israel Thorndike and his daughter Miss Sarah. Of these I found Mrs. Paige by far the most agreeable. Some conversation also with Mr. Alfred Greenough and George Gardner who together with his father were also on board.

1.

CFA and ABA had been living, since their marriage in 1829, at 3 Hancock Avenue on Beacon Hill in Boston; CFA’s office was within easy walking distance in the building owned by his father at 23 Court Street; see vol. 3:2.

2.

Peter Chardon Brooks was ABA’s father; on him see vol. 2:ix–x.

3.

The depot of the Boston and Providence R.R. was located at “the bottom of the Common” on Pleasant Street, just off Boylston Street at Charles Street ( Boston Directory ).

Thursday 16th. CFA Thursday 16th. CFA
Thursday 16th.
Hudson River

We made excellent progress in the night so that we found upon going on deck we were within a few miles of New York. After considering the difficulty of getting rooms in that city and the little use of our staying there if we could, I determined on passing if I could at once to the Steamer going up the Hudson. This our early arrival made perfectly practicable. We crossed a single Wharf and found ourselves quietly ensconced in the Albany, just getting ready to start for the place from which she took her name. The day was beautiful but there were two drawbacks to my enjoying it—my Wife’s condition, brought on by the unusual excitement of travelling, and the excessive crowd in the boat, and the absence of acquaintance.

The scenery of the Hudson River for sixty miles from New York is superior to anything of the kind I ever saw. It combines almost all descriptions of beauty. But it must be admitted that three or four hundred persons of all sorts do not add to the agreeable character of the meditation upon them. To be manoeuvring to get a seat and then fear to move from it on account of the hazard of it’s loss—To be pushed aside by rough seamen, or dirty emigrants, to be stared at by 6vulgar-genteel people—These are the deductions from a picturesque tour, which travelling on the Hudson calls for.

We reached West Point at about twelve and were pleasantly lodged at the Hotel. But greatly to our surprise we met with two of the Misses DeWint together with Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Angier and Jos. H. Adams, who had come down from Fishkill for a day or two’s gaiety.1 This made up a large party. The number at the House was extraordinarily large on account of the presence of the Board of Visitors who have not quite completed their examination.

After dinner, we were not much disposed to make exertion. Abby was quite tired out and I myself felt some need of rest from the nervous agitation which twenty two hours of steam transportation of so rapid a character had produced. I. Hull Adams came in with two or three of his companions—Ridgely, McLane and so forth. He sung on the Guitar. He is in high spirits in consequence of having passed his examination unexpectedly well. But there is a want of character about him that reminds me of his father.2

In the evening, we attended the Parade and afterwards a kind of dance at the Hotel, in which the Officers and band of the Station took the principal part. Abby danced notwithstanding all her fatigue, and we retired late in a noisy house.

1.

Mrs. Thomas Boylston Adams, with her son and daughter, Joseph Harrod Adams and Abigail Smith Adams Angier (Mrs. John), was combining a visit to Mrs. John Peter de Windt, daughter of Abigail Adams Smith, at her home at Fishkill Landing with a visit to Isaac Hull Adams, another son, who was a cadet at West Point.

2.

On Thomas Boylston Adams, JQA’s brother, see vol. 1:xxiii–xxiv. CFA had earlier entertained hope for Isaac Hull Adams’ development, had taken Hull in and tutored him while he prepared for his West Point entrance examination; see vol. 4:255–300 passim.